Education dept condemns torching of school

By Drum Digital
18 February 2015

Limpopo's department of education has condemned the burning of schools in and around Malamulele, it said.

"We cannot allow a situation where some people deny our kids learning opportunities," acting education MEC Jerry Ndou said in a statement.

"We request the law-enforcement to deal with the culprits."

He said the burning of the schools came just a day after the community had resolved to stop protesting.

"We welcomed the end of the protest and banning of schooling, and as the department we are doing all in our power to restore smooth learning and teaching processes," Ndou said.

Nkatini High School was torched in the early hours of Wednesday morning. This was the fifth school that has been set alight in the area since January.

"Members of the public order policing unit were patrolling in the area at about 5am when they noticed the smoke," Colonel Ronel Otto said.

"When they rushed there they found the school on fire."

She said the fire had been contained to what appeared to be a library or a store room which was full of books and had not spread.

"The cause is unknown, but arson is suspected," Otto said.

Police would investigate whether the incident was related to ongoing violence in Malamulele in recent weeks where residents have been demanding their own municipality.

The Municipal Demarcation Board announced in January that Malamulele did not qualify for its own municipality.

Protests erupted in the area last year before the May general elections, and re-ignited more than a month ago with residents demanding their own municipality.

Residents claim the Thulamela municipality has been channelling services to Tshivenda-speaking areas, rather than their own, which is dominated by Xitsonga speakers.

On Monday, Malamulele residents called off the six-week long protest.

Otto said there had been no incidents reported since Monday.

"It's been quiet there the past few days, no incidents reported, no acts of violence," she said.

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